How To Get An Agent! (In 52 Easy Steps) by Ami Allen-Vath

Photo credit: Johan Larsson on Flickr

Getting your book published is the dream! But it takes a little more work than asking the clerk at B&N if they’ll take your book idea, do some magic and put it on their shelf.

It’s highly recommended that you seek out and secure agent representation. Which, as it turns out, is a feat arguably as difficult as landing a book deal. So yeah. Who knew there were some “minor” steps to take before achieving the dream of being published? Please note, the following steps were the ones taken by one individual and repeating said steps in no way guarantees success or failure in gaining agent representation for your book. As a matter of fact, many of these steps are not something I’d advise a writer to follow. Especially in this order. However, I STRONGLY do recommend the sites I’ve highlighted in this post. The site recs are totally serious. So, without further ado, here are the steps that have miraculously been proven to work. At least once.

  1. Have an idea!
  2. Start writing a book.
  3. No, this time it’s serious. You will finish this project.
  4. Take lots of breaks.
  5. After four years and a suggestion from a high school best friend, start a new book!
  6. Don’t have an idea.
  7. Just start writing something fun.
  8. When the story turns dark, keep writing and try to keep it fun.
  9. Begin reading more books on writing.
  10. Start to feel like your childhood dream of having a published book could actually be real.
  11. Have two of your best friends read it and cheer your little book along as you go.
  12. Finish writing your book.
  13. Research query writing using awesome sites like Janet Reid’s QueryShark.
  14. Write a query you think is amazing!
  15. Post it to a site like AgentQueryConnect for constructive critiques from your peers.
  16. Be grateful that you got help before actually sending out the query you thought was brilliant.
  17. Forget that you actually did send out one query before revising it because you were caught up in the excitement.
  18. Revise query a million times.
  19. Using a site like QueryTracker, begin agent research and start making a list of dreamy agents.
  20. Self-edit your book a couple times.
  21. Hit send and get those queries out into the wild.
  22. Feel your heart sink when you get your first rejection on the same day.
  23. Feel your heart soar and maybe get a little teary eyed when you get your first full request.
  24. Think, “Oh crap, I guess I better write that synopsis I’ve been putting off.”
  25. Write a synopsis of your book in about six pages.
  26. Keep cutting and cutting until you have a two page and a one page synopsis.
  27. Feel bummed about the rejections that are coming in, but also feel amazed and lucky and proud that you are getting actual requests. OMG this is crazy!
  28. Get your first two rejections on full manuscript requests in the same week.
  29. Start revising based on feedback from one of the rejections.
  30. Learn what a CP is and the importance of.
  31. Find your first actual, legit CP.
  32. Revise while you still have queries out.
  33. Do your very best not to send out more queries amidst revisions.
  34. Overanalyze every form rejection, every request, and every nugget of feedback on full rejections.
  35. Send out lots more queries. Lots.
  36. Enter a few pitch contests.
  37. Wonder why no one favorited your pitch in the form of a haiku.
  38. Do not get picked for contests.
  39. Do okay with some contests and Twitter pitching.
  40. Use a few more readers and CPs for query and first pages feedback.
  41. Revise one final time based on feedback.
  42. Send a couple revisions to agents who have your full.
  43. Have no idea that your revisions were probably not major enough to warrant bothering agents with.
  44. Get an offer.
  45. Notify all agents with your full manuscript!
  46. Notify all agents who have had your query in the last month or two (or three!) and have not responded.
  47. Receive another offer.
  48. Stress over email refreshing addiction, interested agent that needs more time, and the pace at which rejections and more requests fly in.
  49. Obsess with your CPs and writer friends on how exciting and stressful this is.
  50. Angst, overanalyze and somehow think you’re amazing and not good enough all at once.
  51. Accept amazing agent’s offer.
  52. Celebrate with ice cream.

Aside from linked sites above, here are some more of my favorite sites:

For awesome agent interviews and inspiring stories of “Getting The Call” and Book Deal offers: Michelle Hauck’s blog, Michelle For Laughs, Amy Trueblood’s Chasing The Crazies and Dee Romito’s I Write For Apples.

SubItClub is awesome and has a monthly round-up post for upcoming contests and pitch opportunities.

Dahlia Adler’s site, The Daily Dahlia has great and abundant book recs if you’re into YA, NA, and QUILTBAG reading. Reading in and outside of your category and genre is good for your writing and good for all the waiting you’ll be doing as you pursue your publishing dreams. Dahlia also has a great series called “Perpetual WIPS,” where you can find out if your querying, agent and on submission experience is “normal.”

Check out the hashtag #MSWL and its website for the types of books that agents and editors are currently looking to acquire. Do not pitch using this hashtag!

If you’re not on Twitter, I suggest you fix that. There, you can get the extra 411 on agents, writers, the latest books, and basically everything you wanted to know (and didn’t want to know) about publishing. The writing community on Twitter is lots of fun and very supportive. It shouldn’t be difficult to find your people there.

A few other fun sites for writers in any stage of the process are: the adorable (and one of our own) Ava Jae’s Writability and her youtube channel BookishPixie, Mindy McGinnis’ Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire, and Summer Heacock’s Fizzy Grrl.

Ami Allen-Vath somehow made it through the above 52 steps, gained agent representation and has her first book coming out next year. She’s into books, yoga, warm vacations in the wintertime and ice cream in any season. Ami’s debut, LIARS AND LOSERS LIKE US, will be released in March of 2016. You can follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook but please ignore her if you see her in pj or yoga pants at the grocery store.


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